Friday, 28 February 2014

Timely tips Ninth week: Feb/March

  • No chance for me to lay-out a new strawberry bed, because of the on going river thames in flood. The water is going down through, hopefully another week will see the end of it. However, today it is raining! 
  • This is a good time for making a new plantation of border carnations. It is best to choose a sunny site and be very careful to avoid over-manuring it. The plants may be allowed tow feet between the rows and 15 inches from plant to plant in the row itself. It is also very important to make the soil firm about the roots of these young specimens.
  • There is nothing like a fresh strawberry grown, from your own plot, for tea partially here in England. When making a new bed of strawberries, and now is the time for doing it, remember that they will be in the same grown for three to five years. It is very important to make sure that there is enough ‘muck’ in the ground for them. If you have a lot of ground; you can go for early and late varieties to spread the harvest.
  • Do not be in too much of a rush to sow seeds in the ground. In the main, most seeds will not start ‘working’ till the soil is about 50degrees f. This is where it pays to have a cold frame or small glasshouse so that you can move things along in pots and be ready to put plants out when the weather is more clement.

  • Buy your cold frame from Amazon here

Monday, 24 February 2014

Timely tips Ninth week: February.

  • This is a picture of my plot at the end of March 2013. This year it it still under water from the winter floods. My plot is on the banks of the river Thames which is in flood. The water has not yet started to go down. Many people further down the Thames, have got over 6 feet of water in their house. Plus many farmers have had to move their livestock off there farm due to the floods. We have yet to know what damage it has done to the soil. Upsetting as it is to me, it is only my plot and not my house or livelihood. I am making my sowings of crops in deep boxes on my growing benches. During the coming  year I intend to make many more of these boxes and fill them with compost so that this will not happen to me again. I need my plot to grow food for the table.
  • On the frist occasion when the soil is dry enough,the sowing of onions should be made.There is no question that seedling resulting from early sowing are a lot freer from insect  and fungoid pest than those that grow rapidly from later sowings. Sow the seeds thinly in drills half an inch deep and one foot apart, making the soil fairly firm.
  • Another extremely valuable vegetable that is both hardy and nutritious the leek. A sowing may be made on the frist favorable day and under the same conditions as advised for onions. I is best to make a seed bed in and odd corner of the garden for this crop, because later the young plants will have to be transplanted. 
  • The parsnip is another crop which really appreciates a long season of growth. Seeds should be sown now on deeply cultivated but not recently manured land. Sow in lines 15 inches asunder, distributing the seeds in colonies of three or four at eight inches apart.  
  • Get your leek and onion seeds from Amazon here

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Timely tips eight week: Continued

This is a picture of one of my beds on this day a year ago. No floods and no rain. Perfect soil for putting in your onion and leeks. However this year (2014) there is 23 inches of flood, so no chance of planting leeks. I am sowing crops in pots and the good news, as far as I am concerned, is that 13 days after sowing some lettuce seeds in pots I now have some plants poking through the soil. So I am on my way

  • What ever you intend to do with your garden or plot will depend very much on the soil temperature. Many plants and seeds do not do grow under 50 degrees f or in my case if your plot is under water with river floods. That being said, all things being equal now is a good time the re-arrange the perennial border. When dividing the old plants and selecting portions of roots for replanting, remember that young outside pieces will bear finer flowers than the old and exhausted centers. You should also make sure that you plant in well- manured land.
  • Last year, I had a really good crop of potatoes, in fact I am still eating them.Now is the time to put your seed potatoes in single layers in shallow boxes and place in a cool light airy space Make sure that no frost can get there. Sprouted ‘sets’ start to grow into growth much quicker than un-sprouted tubers and in so doing so yield a much better crop.
  • I love tomatoes and most people who have any form of growing protection like glasshouse/polly tunnel will be thinking of growing them again this year.Well now is the time to sow your seeds in a shallow pan or box that is filled with light sandy soil. Sow the seeds thinly and cover them with sifted compost. Your seeds will need a temperature of about 60 degrees. I always cover mine with a pane of glass. However, if you cannot guarantee a tempter of 60 degrees or there about; do not start yet. You will just be wasting your time and seed.
  • Buy your tomato seeds here  

Monday, 17 February 2014

Timely tips eight week:

  • the above is picture of my fruit beds. There is nothing that I can do at this point in time, except to wait till the water goes down and see if anything is left alive. Last year (2013), we had 80 days of flood and we had the best crop ever. In fact I am still eating them from my deep freeze at the the moment. So I take heart from that.
  • Round seeded peas can be sown in a sheltered position and there is no better variety then Pea Meteor. Soil temperature should be 50 f. Make a drill eight inches wide and two inches deep. To allow for the inevitable losses, sow rather thickly. I sow mine in pots and plant them out when they are about two inches high.Watch out for mice, because there is not much food around for them at this time of the year and they will eat anything.
  • If you have gooseberries, this is a good time to prune them. Do this by cutting side-growths to within two buds of their bases and slightly shortening the leading shoots. On the other hand you could cut out wood that is crowding the center. Retain promising young growth at the full length.
  • Red and white currants are pruned by cutting back side growths to within two or three buds, and reducing leading shoots so the they remain at one-half their present length. AS black currants fruit on the young wood, the method of pruning is different, merely consisting of cutting out old branches and retaining wood at full length.    

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Timely Gardening tips:Week seventh continued:

If the weather is right in your area, this is the right time to sow your main broad bean crop. Try and grow a heavy cropping variety like Organic Variety* The Broad Windsor was listed in 1863. This reliable glossy green pods contain 5-7 oblong, flat, beans. The broad bean is the hardiest of the beans and can be sown in the spring, survive the winter frosts, and be harvested in early summer. All parts of the fava plant are edible. The seeds are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, and have been a cornerstone of human nutrition for thousands of years. The beans may be eaten fresh and properly dried beans will keep for three years. Leaves of the fava plant can be preparing similarly to spinach. This crop must be given fairly good soil. Sow the seeds in lines two feet apart and place them two inches below the surface. Because my plot is flooded at the moment I am sowing mine in pots in my glasshouse on  my growing bench.

If you are growing under a cold frame it is a good idea to remove the ‘lights’ during any sunny February day. This helps the plants by avoiding stale or damp air building up. Also remove any decaying foliage, lightly stir the soil between the plants with a hoe and give a dusting of old soot. 

Nectarines,and peaches as well as cherries all fruit on young wood, so now is a good time to remove as much of last years old fruiting wood as you can. Replace it by tying in young growths at full length. Make sure that they are not thicker than one and a half inches apart.
This is the work that I did last year (2013 ) in February after the winter floods. Each bed took me four hours and eight wheel-borrows of compost to raise them 23 inches of the ground.
Those same beds February 2014.You see that they are just out of the water. When the floods have gone down I must add more compost to get them more out of the floods.There is kale,cabbage,celery,beetroot,turnips and rhubarb growing them at the moment.A the bottom of my plot I have a small glasshouse. I am sowing lettuce,carrots and spring onions in containers at the moment.
Right now the UK is being hit by 108 mile an hour winds and heavy rain. More rain is expected tomorrow. I must rethink my growing systems because right now and for the next month I have no chance of growing in the soil.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Timely tips week Seventh week: February.

If you have a bed of winter spinach that is looking a bit tired. You can get it all going again with a little bit of work.
  • Get rid of the decaying foliage
  • Run your hoe between the rows to get rid of the weeds and stir the soil up.
  • Dust with some old soot to discourage slugs and doing so will  also help growth.

I love ferns. To me they bring a touch of ‘old world‘ to a garden as they simmer in the wind.
If you grow them in pots now is a good time to repot them. Turn the ferns out of the pots and pull away a little of the old soil prior to repotting them in a larger pot. A good compost for ferns is two parts loam, one part leaf mold with a bit of sand added.

February is a really good time to plant rose plants. This is particularly true of soils that are a little bit heavy and badly drained. Choose an open site, dig it to a depth of about two feet and put manure or compost up to fifteen inches below the surface.    

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Timely Garden tips: Week Sixth;continued

Make the soil in the box or pot firm and allow plenty of space for a good watering. It is also a good idea to leave a clear half inch between the surface of the soil and the top of your container.

If you have fruit trees on you plot/garden that are any way old the it is always a good practice to remove moss/lichens or ivy. The moss/lichens can be removed by spraying with a product called Vitax 500ml Moss and Algae Concentrate. I have always found that Jayes fluid very effective but I thing that it is a banned product in some parts of the world. You could use ‘salt’ mixed with water and just poured it on to the trunk of the tree. Using this method you will more then likely have to do it two or three times. If you have a power washer it is an ideal way to get rid of the growth.
It might be good to mention that in the main; the growths do not harm the tree; it is just that some people might find it unsightly. In the case of ivy; that will harm your tree. To get rid of this ; take a saw and cut through the ivy as low down as you can. The just leave it to die. When it is brown remove the ivy from the tree.

The first sowing of celery may be made now in a heated frame or greenhouse. Sow the seeds in a shallow box filled with sifted sand, leafy soil and take care to distribute the seeds thinly. After germination, place the box on a shelf close to the rood glass to ensure sturdy growth from your seedling.

Now is a good time to sow half-hardy annual flowers that may be sown at the moment there are the charming verbenas and petunias. A shallow box is the best thing to use for this job. Fill it with finely sifted soil. Sow thinly and cover the seed very lightly with fine compost. Heat is essential to germination so if your glasshouse or polly tunnel is not heated;wait a while.

Surfing is more then likly the best way to get around on my plot at the moment. We  have 23inches of water all over the plot. Here in the UK we are in quite bad trouble with flooding along all our rivers and coast line. There has been rain more or less everyday since christmas. It is not cold;being about 5-10 f in the main.

I am fortunate in that I have both a small polly tunnel and glasshouse. I have made some makeshift growing benches and am sowing lettuce and carrots into containers on a weekly bases wearingmy wellies, of course.

Buy your celery seeds from amazon. 

Verbenas seeds from Amazon.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Timely Garden tips: Week Sixth.

  • This is a picture of my own plot today the 3rd of February 2014. The plot is on the banks of the river Thames which is in flood for the second year running. You will notice that I have a small poly tunnel. This at the moment is in flood, and unused. Big mistake. So in the coming summer I am going to put benches in there that can be remove in the summer. The  idea is to grow in containers on the bench and more importantly; out of the water. 
  • Now that we are into February, the seed sowing season is rapidly approaching, and it is necessary to select and prepare sites for your onions, parsnips, peas and broad beans. That is if you have not already done so.
  • In this week the prunings from bush fruits, such as currants and gooseberries may be used as cutting, provided that you use well ripened healthy young growths about one foot in length. In the case of black currants make sure that you leave all the basal buds, but remove them from red and white currants and gooseberries.
  • This is also a good time to give your strawberry plantations a weeding and try and fork over the soil in between the plants. A top dressing of manure or compost would also help provide a good summer crop. If it is intended to make a new bed, now is the time to select the site and to prepare it for the young plants. 
  • To read my articles about growing please click here.